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A Travel Filmmaker Shares Stories from Tanzania

Photos courtesy of Marissa Chabria and Brian Rapsey/World Nomads.


A new short film highlighting responsible travel was just released by World Nomads in partnership with OneSeed Expeditions. A product of their annual Travel Filmmaking Scholarship, the film features local Tanzanian entrepreneurs that are directly supported by OneSeed’s local partner Anza, an organization that enables businesses in Tanzania to grow. Last fall, OneSeed Expeditions hosted the scholarship winner, Marissa Chabria of Costa Rica, on an all-expenses-paid trip to Tanzania to complete her own film during the trip.

Hear from Marissa about her experience in Tanzania, what’s it’s like to live and work abroad, and the power of film to tell important stories:

How would you describe Tanzania to someone who has never been there?

I remember reading various articles on what a magical continent Africa was and to be honest I did not understand this until I experienced it for myself. Tanzania is such a mesmerizing country, you can feel its energy as soon as your feet touch the ground. The beauty the country portrays goes from the cultural diversity, to the happiness in the locals and their cheerful spirit, the lush landscapes, the wildlife that makes you feel you’re filming a documentary, the bold and rich sunsets, but mostly, the simplicity in life. You’re able to experience how happy the people are and how welcoming they make you feel into their beautiful country. You can be sure that you’ll feel at home even though you’re away from home. It’s a feeling and energy you experience only in Africa, but specifically in such a magical place like Tanzania.

How did you get your start in travel filmmaking?

I was always interested in creating art at a young age, be it through music or moving images. I had a lot of curiosity for technology and editing softwares, and loved going to electronic stores to have a look at the cameras because it seemed fascinating to me to tell a story through one. I started making videos during my High School Senior Year and then for some courses in college. I became more serious about filmmaking on my first trip to Tanzania, where I remember calling my mom and telling her “Mom, I want to be a travel filmmaker,” and she said “Okay great, what’s that?”. It was there I realized I wanted to become a storyteller to immerse myself in the different cultures and document stories that have a strong impact on a community and that maybe one day, could change the world through social awareness. The most exciting parts about filmmaking are the places you get to see, the people you meet, and the connections and memories you make along the way.

How did filming in East Africa challenge your expectations and what was your biggest takeaway?

Filming in Tanzania was literally a dream come true and there are a number of lessons I learned through this unbelievable and breathtaking experience, but the number one thing I understood on a more profound level, is to never give up because dreams do come true.

In 2017, I went to Tanzania as a volunteer for three months and I absolutely fell in love with the culture, its people and the beauty it has to offer. It became my home away from home and it was a very emotional and spiritual journey for me. Before leaving Africa that year, I promised myself I’d come back some day to this magical place to film a documentary in order for people to witness its culture, and how exotic of a country Tanzania is. Little did I know my promise was actually going to come true exactly a year later with the opportunity of the World Nomads Travel Filmmaking Scholarship. The people closest to me knew what it meant for me to come back, and this time, I would be going back to the place I love the most to do what I love most. Once being there, it was unbelievable to connect with the locals, interview them and listen to their stories. It was definitely one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever been through because there were so many technical concepts I was not aware of and I wanted the outcome to be remarkable, but I had to remind myself that I was an aspiring filmmaker and I was being mentored by a professional who would guide me throughout the whole process.

The editing stage was one of the most tedious yet exciting experiences ever, and I had to surrender to the idea of a slow paced process and fall in love with it. I think one of the biggest takeaways is understanding the importance of having that drive in life and a passion for what you do.

What role has travel played in your life personally and as a filmmaker?

Travel changed my life, both as an individual and a filmmaker. My first solo trip was a volunteer trip where I traveled alone from Costa Rica to Tanzania in 2017 and spent three months volunteering there. It thoroughly changed my perspective on life and redirected my purpose. I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker to bring stories to life and give a voice to people.

Travel changes lives and broadens one’s horizons. When you travel you grow as a person and learn to live the present as it is: no past and no future, just the exact moment you are experiencing. You let go of fears and turn them into curiosities and discover parts of yourself you didn’t even know existed. You develop humility as you realize how big the world is and how small we actually are, you understand and respect other cultures, you connect and meet people who become life-long friends, you collect stories to tell, explore places and landscapes that seem too surreal to be true, and make memories that will last forever. The feeling I get at an airport or when I’ve buckled my seatbelt on the plane is indescribable. It’s like I’m actually able to grasp freedom in my hands. I believe that every trip adds value to your life and you learn something new about yourself.

Do you have any tips for people thinking of traveling to Tanzania for the first time?

I would tell people who are thinking of traveling to Tanzania to have an open mind. I did not get culture shock because some things were similar to my home country Costa Rica, but be open to anything because you might see things you’ve never seen before. I was very surprised by how warm hearted and welcoming the locals are. Be prepared for Africa to steal each tiny part of your heart and make you fall in love with the place. You’ll be amazed by their essence, generosity, happiness and strength. Believe me, you’ll feel at home and you’ll want to come back.

You can hear more from Marissa on the World Nomads blog. The 2019 Travel Film Scholarship contest is now accepting entries! Click here to learn more.


OneStory: The Women's Bakery

The OneSeed OneStory series highlights the work of innovators and changemakers around the world. Interested in sharing your story? Contact us at

We're all about hustle at OneSeed. We know firsthand what it takes to transform an idea into a business and we could not have more respect for the incredible women at the heart of this social enterprise. 

The Women's Bakery is "an education-centric social enterprise committed to empowering women and developing women-owned businesses." Building sustainable small businesses one bakery at a time in Rwanda and Tanzania, TWB grew out of a simple passion and clear vision for growing communities and livelihood through fresh-baked bread. 

This week, we sat down with Heather Newell, TWB's US Programs Officer, to talk baking and building businesses. 

Tell me about how TWB's earliest days. How did this project first get off the ground?

While a teacher with the U.S. Peace Corps in Rwanda, I first heard about The Women's Bakery before it was what it is today. 

Two colleagues of mine, Markey Culver and Julie Greene, in response to social and economic disparity, had started to bake bread with women in their respective sites of service. This was compelling to me as the project began with a sustainable aspect: income generation. 

Women asked how to make bread and so both Markey and Julie began to share and teach this skill - also fortifying breads with protein and micro nutrients. 

Soon, they were selling the bread and The Women's Bakery was born. 


Tell me a bit about your impact model. 

Our work as a service-provider is two-fold:

1. We educate women and equip them with the business, technical, and life skills necessary for income generation. 

2. We train women to source local, nutritious ingredients and to produce and sell fortified, affordable breads in their communities. Our program includes on-going oversight and operations management to ensure sustainability and business growth. 

TWB empowers women with business, baking, nutrition, and life skills education. This provides economic mobility, improves community nutrition and sparks local economies. The average woman in TWB training is 39 years old and has 4.6 children. 40% rely on farming for primary income, and 50% live in female led homes. Only 14% have finished high school level education. 

One bakery creates 3-6 jobs in its first year and women can earn over 2x their average local income after one year of bakery operation. The average GNI (Gross National Income) in Rwanda currently is $650. Within one year, TWB women can earn $981 – this income projection is conservative and expected to increase substantially in two to five years. 

Why bread?

Something as simple as a loaf of bread has the power to create jobs, improve nutrition and spark economic growth. Bread is a medium for The Women’s Bakery to accomplish all three - employ women, provide access to improved nutrition on a village level, and support community-driven economic growth. 

In Rwanda alone, 44% of children younger than five-years-old are chronically malnourished. Because protein and vitamin deficiencies are a leading cause of malnutrition in East Africa and are missing from consumer products, affordable nutritious additives are essential. When women work, economies grow faster. Through The Women’s Bakery, women’s work has the potential to transform local economies while enhancing the health of their communities.

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced so far?

The biggest challenge we have faced as an organization is pivoting for necessary model changes. Our program is extensive – with a lot of moving parts – and so as a social enterprise start-up, we are constantly looking for ways to build sustainable, smart, and impactful programming! Working on the ground in East Africa is not always easy, but it’s an important part of how we do our work: with a locally driven context, and locally driven employees! 

What's the long term vision for TWB? How do you plan to grow in the future?

The Women’s Bakery exists to empower women through education and business. We believe our model can be relevant throughout Rwanda, East Africa, and beyond! 

The Women’s Bakery is at a critical point of strategy and scale. By refining our model, we are poised to launch a relevant, measurably impactful, profitable bakery franchise model in East Africa. We plan to train at least two more groups this year, expanding our internal staff, and growing our network of TWB women.

This scale is multiplicative. Moreover, this model and its scale can be duplicated and replicated across East Africa. We are refining the model in Rwanda in real time with plans to scale into neighboring East African countries.

Learn more about The Women's Bakery. 

See their pitch video here. 

Want to share your OneStory? Contact us.